Just the Facts?: Was 'Jack the Ripper' American Killer H. H. Holmes? -- Family Flees Tea-Making Ghost -- Lobster Cannibalism
Was Chicago doctor serial killer London's Jack the Ripper?
One descendant of H.H. Holmes, the notorious Chicago man known as America’s first serial killer, now suggests his ancestor could actually have also been the London serial killer Jack the Ripper.
Jeff Mudgett, the great-great-great-grandson of the killer, has submitted handwriting samples from both Holmes and Jack the Ripper for review and handwriting experts have confirmed the likelihood they could stem from the same hand.
Now Mudgett is on a quest to see if the American, believed to have killed 200 victims before he was caught in 1894, had made any documented visits to London around the same time with the killing wave swept through London.
Herman Webster Mudgett, known as H.H. Holmes, was a wealthy and well-educated doctor in Chicago, where he moved in 1884 from his native New Hampshire.
He eventually became owner of a drugstore and opened a hotel in Englewood, a suburb of the Windy City.
But the 60-room boarding house was a murder trap – having been constructed to allow the proprietor easy access to his victims.
and body chutes so he could transport his sedated or already dead victims to the basement of the hotel.
Striking: Jeff Mudgett enlisted handwriting experts to compare the handwriting of H.H. Holmes and Jack the Ripper. The experts say they likely came from the same hand
Some victims were locked in their bedrooms, that were soundproof and fixed with gas lines, so they would be asphyxiated.
Others were kept in a soundproof bank vault, where they would be kept and ultimately would suffocate.
Once the victims died, hidden body chutes would allow Holmes to drop their sedated or dead bodies to the basement of the hotel, where he would dissect the corpses - selling the skeletons to medical schools.
Holmes was finally caught and admitted to killing 27 people, though some suspect he was to blame for 200 deaths.
He was hanged in May 1896.
He had been married to three different women and had an unknown number of children.
Jeff Mudgett learned of his terrifying heritage when his grandmother decided to investigate their lineage as part of a growing tend among families wishing to find out more about their family tree.
'It left him questioning everything he thought he knew about himself and his family. The new information forever changed him, propelling him down a new path in search of the truth,' according to an interview he gave to Ancestry.com.
He began looking into the heinous crimes of his ancestor and the inquiry took a turn, when he began to notice similarities in Mudgett's modus operandi and that of Jack the Ripper.
'Jeff had H.H. Holmes’ handwriting compared to the infamous Jack the Ripper letter. One expert, recommended by the British Library, concluded both were written by the "same hand," while a computer program used by the Postal Service and Department of Justice stated it was a 97.95 per cent match.'
Jack the Ripper was the title given to the unidentified killer who preyed upon the poor and immigrant communities of London in 1888, killing five.
It's believed that this killer targeted female prostitutes, whose throats were slashed before the perpetrator mutilated their internal organs.
The abdominal mutilation caused many to believe the killer was surgically trained.
The identity of the murderer has remained unknown but he has arguably become the world's most famous killers, even a century after his deadly spree. - Daily Mail
Holmes purchased a lot across from the drugstore which he manipulated a widow to sell to him, where he built his three-story, block-long “Castle”—as it was dubbed by those in the neighborhood. It was opened as a hotel for the World’s Columbian Exposition in 1893, with part of the structure used as commercial space. The ground floor of the Castle contained Holmes’s own relocated drugstore and various shops, while the upper two floors contained his personal office and a maze of over one hundred windowless rooms with doorways opening to brick walls, oddly angled hallways, stairways to nowhere, doors openable only from the outside, and a host of other strange and labyrinthine constructions. Holmes repeatedly changed builders during the construction of the Castle so only he fully understood the design of the house, thus decreasing the chance of being reported to the police.
After the completion of the hotel, Holmes selected mostly female victims from among his employees (many of whom were required as a condition of employment to take out life insurance policies for which Holmes would pay the premiums but also be the beneficiary), lovers and hotel guests, torturing and killing them. Some were locked in soundproof bedrooms fitted with gas lines that let him asphyxiate them at any time. Some victims were locked in a huge soundproof bank vault near his office where they were left to suffocate. The victims’ bodies were dropped by secret chute to the basement, where some were meticulously dissected, stripped of flesh, crafted into skeleton models, and then sold to medical schools. Holmes also cremated some of the bodies or placed them in lime pits for destruction. Holmes had two giant furnaces as well as pits of acid, bottles of various poisons, and even a stretching rack. Through the connections he had gained in medical school, he sold skeletons and organs with little difficulty.
On May 7, 1896, Holmes was hanged at Moyamensing Prison, also known as the Philadelphia County Prison. Until the moment of his death, Holmes remained calm and amiable, showing very few signs of fear, anxiety or depression. Holmes’s neck did not snap immediately; he instead died slowly, twitching over 15 minutes before being pronounced dead 20 minutes after the trap had been sprung. He requested that he be buried in concrete so that no one could ever dig him up and dissect his body, as he had dissected so many others. This request was granted.
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Family flees tea-making ghost
A family have told how they were driven out of their home by a poltergeist partial to a cuppa.
Frightened Rosaleen and George Doherty fled their council house last week after the spook repeatedly switched on the kettle and shook cups on their mug tree.
Mum of five Rosaleen, 47, said: “It was like it was making tea for itself. It was terrifying.”
The Dohertys only moved into the house in June — but within days the ghost was making its presence felt.
Rosaleen — who now lives with her family in a caravan — said: “We’d hear it knock on the front door, then the lights would turn on in kitchen.”
She called a priest to perform an exorcism at the three-bed home in Airedale, West Yorks — but it made matters worse. Rosaleen said: “I felt it wanted us out.” - The Sun
Voodoo grave robbing in West Africa
It's a grave situation in the West African country of Benin where more than 100 coffins have reportedly been desecrated in a cemetery near the capital city of Porto Novo, and dozens of bodies mutilated.
The unburied bodies had been sliced open, decapitated in some cases, with internal organs removed, according to TheMorningStarr.co.uk. Locals fear the stolen corpse parts are being used to make voodoo good luck charms.
Cemetery director Joseph Afaton believes the bones and organs are being sold by the thieves as charms.
"The desecration of graves is about money in this region," Afaton told Reuters. "It is for sacrifices, or for bewitching."
The robberies were initially discovered by a mason who had forgotten his tools at the cemetery and he alerted the police, the BBC reported.
The discovery has created a lot of turmoil among the relatives of the deceased since many of them believe in reincarnation and fear their dearly departed will be reincarnated without their currently missing body parts.
A voodoo high priest said that grave robbing is not part of the voodoo mainstream and told the BBC that the grave robberies were condemned.
There was no police comment as to the status of any investigation, but robbing graves in the name of religion is unusual and uncommon.
Last month, five people in Thailand -- including two monks -- were arrested for stealing human skulls from graves to make love charms, and using the proceeds to buy drugs, GeoBeats reported. - THP
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Cruel new fact of crustacean life: lobster cannibalism
Researchers studying Maine's lobster population, booming in recent years amid warming waters and disappearing predators, have detected something never before seen in the wild: lobster cannibalism.
It has long been known that lobsters will attack and eat each other if confined together in a small space - hence the banding of claws on lobsters in supermarket tanks.
That aggressive behavior had not been thought to occur in the wild, but with the increasing density of the crustaceans in the Gulf of Maine it seems big lobsters are feasting on little lobsters once the sun goes down.
"We've got the lobsters feeding back on themselves just because they're so abundant," said Richard Wahle, a marine sciences professor at the University of Maine, who is supervising the research. "It's never been observed just out in the open like this," he said.
Maine's lobster catch rose to a record 104 million pounds (45 million kilograms) last year, compared with 23 million pounds in 1981. The 2012 catch is expected to shatter that record as overfishing and other factors have led to the collapse of populations of cod, halibut and other groundfish that feed on lobsters.
Warming waters in the Gulf of Maine due to climate change have also bolstered the population even as the same phenomenon has led to more disease and lower populations in Long Island Sound and southern New England, Wahle said.
A graduate student working with Wahle, Noah Oppenheim, has been documenting the phenomenon using a special infrared camera that allows him to observe a juvenile lobster tethered with a rope to a spot on the ocean floor.
During the daytime, it is fish that typically feed on the tethered juvenile lobsters, but at night the researchers were stunned to see that most of the attacks on the small lobsters were by their larger brethren.
"The population of lobsters in Maine has skyrocketed and there have been some interesting changes in abundance, demographics and, we believe, behavior," Oppenheim said. "Eight out of nine times at night, predation is due to cannibalism."
Wahle said Canadian researchers studying the contents of lobsters' stomachs had also recently found evidence of cannibalism in the wild.
"There are these cases where encounters with each other are becoming so frequent, they result in more than just a bit of competition but in a predator-prey interaction," Wahle said.
Falling lobster prices due to this year's abundant catch have led to tensions between Canadian and U.S. lobstermen. In August, New Brunswick lobstermen picketed processing plants and temporarily blocked shipments of inexpensive Maine lobster from being brought to the Maritime provinces in Canada for processing. - Reuters